Medical marijuana patients in Michigan are leaving the state-regulated program, as new laws and court rulings have shrunk the state’s number of caregivers and shut down dispensaries. Yet the state reports it earned more from the program’s licensing fees in 2013 than in 2012.
According to two annual reports required by the Michigan Legislature, the number of registered medical marijuana patients fell from 124,131 in 2012 to 118,368 last year; a decline of roughly 5%. During the same time period, the number of licensed caregivers was nearly sliced in half, from 50,188 to 27,046.
The drop in patients follows a crackdown by the state on its medical marijuana program, which voters approved in 2008. In February 2013, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that retail dispensaries are illegal, and shortly thereafter law enforcement began raiding the estimated 75-100 dispensaries within the state. In April, the state rolled out its new rules for patients, caregivers and doctors.
Under the new rules, only individuals submit payment to the state, a licensing fee for their card certifying them as valid medical marijuana patients. Caregivers and physicians serving the patient are covered under the patient’s application.
Despite the changes, the state reported revenues of $10.89 million in licensing fees, compared to $9.9 million in 2012. The cost of the program also rose, from $3.6 million in 2012 to roughly $4 million in 2013.